Want donors to stay engaged? Thank them!

Show your appreciation with a timely, sincere thank you letter

Want donors to stay engaged? Thank them with a timely, sincere thank you letter.

Want donors to stay engaged? Thank them!

Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s unfortunate how many nonprofits don’t thank their donors.

Of course we thank them. After all, many of our donations are done online and we have our system send a receipt/thank you note.

Is this really thanking your donor? Does this create engagement?

I suggest not. Want donors to stay engaged? Thank them!

I don’t believe that the lapse is intentional. But, those thank you notes are extremely important. Here are some meaningful ways to rectify the situation and ensure that your donors stay engaged:

Donor acquisition is extremely important. Yet 3 of 4 donors leave and never come back. Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, wrote a very interesting blog post One thing most nonprofits stink at (donor retention) and how you can change it interviewed fundraising experts from across the industry to share 12 super simple (but effective) ways to engage and retain donors. I was thrilled when I saw how many spoke to the importance of heartfelt thank you notes.

These 12 Ways to Thank Donors will keep them from saying goodbye offer a good guide for using thank you notes to keep your donors engaged:

  1. Offer donors a next step in your thank you note.
  2. Thank your donors for being them.
  3. Send a handwritten note.
  4. Treat each donation as the beginning of a meaningful friendship.
  5. Don’t ask for more money — yet.
  6. Keep it simple and emotional, not filled with jargon.
  7. Make your donor feel something positive in your thank you letter.
  8. Avoid careless errors – double check your grammar and spelling.
  9. Send your thank you letter as fast as possible.
  10. Make the letter relevant.
  11. Give the donor credit, not you.
  12. Follow up later.

Writing thoughtful timely thank you letters is hard work. But, it’s worth it!

Thank you for all you do for your community. And, thank you for following my blog.

I’d love to hear from you with suggestions for keeping donors engaged!


Insights into Nonprofit Social Media

How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”” Seth Godin

I admit I didn’t understand the significance of social media until the 21st Annual Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture featuring Al Gore in 2009. It was the first time that I incorporated a social media strategy into the marketing communications plan.

The goal was to increase awareness of the lecture series and the host organization. By all measures the lecture was a resounding success! Social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, played a significant role.

The yearly Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, sponsored by Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Common Knowledge and Blackbaud, focuses on social media trends in the nonprofit sector. The 4th annual report provides interesting insights.  More than 3500 nonprofit professionals responded to an online survey about their use of social media.

Two social networks were part of the study:

  • Commercial Social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Myspace, Flickr and Foursquare.
  • House Social networks –networks built & managed by the nonprofit in-house.

Here are a few of the 2012 social media insights:

  1. Only Facebook and Twitter increased from 2011 to 2012. Respondents accumulated an average of 8,317 Facebook members & 3,290 followers on Twitter, an increase of 30% and 81% respectively from 2011.
  2. A consolidated brand strategy, which focuses most or all branding & marketing  on one Facebook page and 1 Twitter account is the norm.
  3. The average value of a supporter acquired via Facebook Like is $214.81 over the 12 months following acquisition. This includes all revenue from individual donations, membership, events, etc.
  4. Facebook advertising is mainly used to raise awareness and build a support base, not for fundraising.
  5. 54% of respondents said they were not fundraising on Facebook. An Ask for an individual gift is the most common fundraising tactic on Facebook. Event fundraising was the 2nd highest category.

What I found to be the most telling were the top 3 factors for success on Social Networks. They speak to the same focus that is necessary for all successful initiatives:

  • #1 – Developed a strategy
  • #2 – Prioritization by executive management
  • #3 – Dedicated social media staff

In other words – Develop a plan, get buy-in and identify a knowledgeable key team member to lead the new initiative.

Is your nonprofit using social media? I would love to hear what is working best for you. Please contact deborah@creative-si.com.